Saturday, November 3, 2018

Running Our Race before a Great Cloud of Witnesses!

All Saints Sunday
Election Sunday
Nov 4, 2018
Fr. Phil Eberhart

Running Our Race before a Great Cloud of Witnesses

Welcome to our first anniversary out of the funeral home business!  Some here don't even have that much history for our congregation!  Praise God !!   That means that we have several new faces among us!!  Praise God!

A year ago this Sunday we moved into "Prepare the Way" which was "on our way" to this place!  Friends, I cannot say enough how much God has been present and in charge of this process!!  There is a report coming out of just the things that God has done - what He's helped us to accomplish in the past month or so and what is coming between now and Thanksgiving.  Don't miss that Good News!!

Watch for that update on Thursday evening in our churchwide email.  I hope that many of you open and read the work that Deacon Ethel and Barbara Parvin do on that Constant Contact.  I think it is extraordinary!

I want to draw your attention to a scripture this morning that is NOT in our readings but speaks to this All Saints morning and to the work ahead of us this week.

It's the passage we know well from Hebrews 12:1-2

[Heb 12:1-2 NASB] 1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Can you feel the surrounding Cloud of Witnesses around us?  Saints and Angels -  The writer of Hebrews in the same chapter- describes them in detail: 

[Heb 12:22-25 NASB] 
22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of [the] righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than [the blood] of Abel. 25 See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned [them] on earth, much less [will] we [escape] who turn away from Him who [warns] from heaven.

We are poised on this weekend, because of All Saints, last Thursday, between time and eternity in our celebration this morning.  Our scriptures this morning are all pointed to the reality of the eternal reality which is the home of the saints.

HEAVEN!  Is this something that you believe in?  Some in our society no longer believe in an "after life," you know. They seem to think that we are just imposing rules on life because we want to!  They believe that morality is the left over of a by-gone age, left in the dust as we move from one level to another of higher consciousness.

But are we actually getting better and better as we mature in our culture or do we bear a kind of fruit that tells us we need to repent!

I think the latter is actually truer of us than not.

We in the church are called by Jesus to be - to act -
   in our culture as "salt"  and  "Light."  

Salt and Light both have a restraining effect!  The effect of salt on a piece of meat is to arrest the processes of decay!  To keep the meat from spoiling!!

The effect of Light is that of illumination - it is the positive side of the equation -  It always dispells the darkness.  Does the culture seem darker these days?  It's not because of the darkness-  The very nature of darkness is passive, because it is definable as "an absence of light!"  The darkness is not the problem, the darkness is just being dark!  The problem is with the LIGHT - ouch!  That's us.

And friends we are faced with a perfect example and an opportunity this very week. An opportunity to BE THE LIGHT!  Whatever your party or political affiliation or non-affiliation, we have the opportunity to VOTE.


As someone who is a "light bearer", your vote is a direct manifestation of that light in our culture!!  That means that you must know what you believe and be informed of the issues and candidates.  That is why we have voter's guides in the entry way and why we urge you to vote the values you have as a "bearer of the light!"

As I said earlier,  What we do this Tuesday, friends, will bear ramifications in our culture for at least a decade, maybe more! Perhaps an entire generation!  It is vital that we all get out and vote.  How many of you have already voted?  (show of hands)!!  Great... that is great.  I pray that for the sake of our country you will simply get out and vote if you have not already.

I've said to many who are trying to excuse themselves that this on is "FOR ALL THE MARBLES!"  WHICHEVER WAY YOU VOTE!  It is the most important act of citizenship you have engaged in, probably in your lifetime!  

Let me repeat that,  This Tuesday's vote is likely the most significant act of citizenship that you have engaged in --- in your lifetime!

So let us "run the race" friends.  Filled with faith and being faithful to our Lord and to HIS Word!   It's time for us to PRAY and then VOTE and then PRAY some more.

I invite you to join me and other friends as we lead for an hour this Tuesday on a National Prayer Call from 9 to 10 a.m.  You can join the call anytime from 6 am to 9 pm Mountain Time this Tuesday.

The number and the list of leaders is in our Thursday email - and once again, I will be part of the leadership from 9 to 10 am on Tuesday if you would like to join us to pray for the outcomes on Tuesday.

And so I invite you to join as we pray this morning for our selves, for our nation, for the elections. 

Let us pray:

Heavenly Father, whose blessed Son came not to be served but to serve: Bless all who, following in his steps, give themselves to the service of others; that with wisdom, patience, and courage, they may minister in his Name to the suffering, the friendless, and the needy;  for the love of him who laid down his life for us, your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.  

Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage: 
      We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will.  Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth.
      In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.